James inspires 10-man Colombia to Copa final

James Rodríguez served up his sixth assist of the tournament to help 10-man Colombia beat Uruguay 1-0 in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday to set up a Copa América final against Argentina.

Argentina beat Canada 2-0 in the first semifinal on Tuesday to book their place in Sunday’s final in Miami Gardens, Florida. 

Victory for Colombia Wednesday meant they extended their unbeaten run to a team-record 28 games, dating back to a loss to Argentina in February 2022.

In a contentious match that included seven yellow cards and one red, players from both teams pushed and shoved in a scrum on the field at the final whistle. Darwin Núñez and about a dozen Uruguay teammates went into the stands as fans brawled. A video showed Núñez hitting a fan in Colombian team colours.

Jefferson Lerma scored the only goal of the game in front of a fervent and overwhelmingly pro-Colombia crowd of 70,644 at Bank of America Stadium when he headed in a deep corner from James in the 39th minute.

James becomes the first South American player with six assists at a single major tournament since Pelé for Brazil at the 1970 World Cup.

James Rodríguez was again Colombia’s inspiration in their semifinal win over Uruguay.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images


Colombia’s task of maintaining their advantage was complicated when defender Daniel Muñoz was sent off in first-half stoppage time after receiving a second yellow card for swinging an elbow at Uruguay’s Manuel Ugarte. Muñoz received his first yellow card from Mexican referee César Ramos in the 31st minute for a reckless slide tackle on Maximiliano Araújo

Liverpool striker Darwin Núñez failed to take advantage of multiple first-half opportunities, with Colombia goalkeeper Camilo Vargas not having to make his first save until he stopped Nicolás de la Cruz in the 68th minute.

Substitute Luis Suárez, Uruguay’s career leader with 68 goals, hit the outside of a post with a shot in the 71st as Uruguay struggled to find a breakthrough against the 10 men.

Colombia’s Mateus Uribe, another second-half sub, put an open shot wide in the 88th, and Uribe’s open shot in the fourth minute of stoppage time ricocheted off the body of sliding goalkeeper Sergio Rochet and then the crossbar.

But one goal proved enough for Colombia to reach their third Copa América final and first since winning their only title as hosts in 2001. Argentina are seeking a record 16th Copa América title and are looking to join Spain as the only countries to win three straight major titles.

The match was played in 90-degree heat on a surface that was converted from artificial turf to grass in the weeks leading up the game.

Uruguay will play Canada a day earlier in the third-place playoff on Saturday.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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